Phil Tippett: Mad Dreams and Monsters Review

A common complaint in film these days is that there is too much CGI. Computer graphics have not only diminished the effectiveness of monsters in genre films, but they have put practical effects and stop-motion artists out of work. While technological advancements have their perks and their place, many moviegoers believe that practical effects will always give off a more tangible viewing experience, arousing a deeper fear than any creature designed solely on a computer. Writer/director duo Gilles Penso and Alexandre Poncets documentary Phil Tippett: Mad Dreams and Monsters reintroduces audiences to a special effects legend while also spotlighting the impact stop-motion animation has had on the movie industry despite the emergence of CGI.

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The McPherson Tape

One of the joys of attending Fantastic Fest is discovering hidden or forgotten gems through its repertory programming. Last year they played the French thriller Dial Code Santa Claus, which is about a kid forced to fend off against a home invader on Christmas, which came out a couple of years before Macaulay Culkin ate his cheese pizza in Home Alone, and was never released in the US.  This year they offered a different yet equally fascinating “lost” film. This time around, Fantastic Fest audiences were treated to a one-time-only screening of what has been called the very first horror found-footage movie The McPherson Tape, made in 1989 – 10 years before The Blair Witch Project. 

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One of the defining traits of a mother is her unconditional love. No matter how rotten a child can be, a mother’s love can be undying and never waiver through troubled waters. It is both a blessing and a curse – this endless devotion and sacrifice that comes with being a parent. But just how far does that love go? How much can one parent give and risk in order to help a child that is seemingly hopeless?

In her sophomore feature Pelican Blood, writer/director Katrin Gebbe captures the immense dedication that mothers can exude despite the most defiant and dangerous kids they try to nurture and protect. 

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Blood Machines Review

Back in 2016, Raphaël Hernandez and Savitri Joly-Gonfard (under the pseudonym “Seth Ickerman”) became internet sensations after directing Carpenter Brut’s “Turbo Killer” music video. Some seven million views and three years later, “Ickerman” returns with more hyper-stylized synthwave sensationalism in the fiftyish-minute sequel Blood Machines. More intergalactic trance-pop imperialism, more Carpenter Brut nightline bass thumping, and way more crucifixion babes. Having now seen the music video and sequel, there’s little to credit by way of narrative tissue – but that doesn’t mean a damn thing. Cue the cyberpunk femme fatales and heavy saturation of red color filtration.

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Podcast: The Best Movies of Fantastic Fest 2019

On the September 30, 2019 episode of /Film Daily, /Film editor-in-chief Peter Sciretta is joined by /Film managing editor Jacob Hall and writer Chris Evangelista to talk about the best movies they saw at Fantastic Fest 2019.

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The Other Lamb Review

In Christianity, the lamb is symbolic of gentleness, innocence, and purity. The animal has also been used as a reference to Jesus Christ when the bible mentions “lamb of God.” There is a softness and delicate nature to the lamb, one that provides comfort in its shed fur used for blankets and clothing. They also possess a specific loyalty and obedience as they are willfully herded by a shepherd–blindly following its master even to its death. This thematic symbolism is woven throughout director Malgorzata Szumowska’s horror film, The Other Lamb, as she depicts a tale of obedience and defiance within the isolated world of a cult. Read More »

Sweetheart Review

J.D. Dillard’s Sweetheart is fierce aquatic horror without any frills. Think Cast Away, but instead of a volleyball companion named “Wilson,” it’s a man-eating sea monster who hunts by moonlight. There’s your plot. A marooned survivor with no immediate escape and her fishman rival. Simplicity can be a beautiful thing, and Dillard’s waterlogged grudge match is one such occasion. Many thanks to Fantastic Fest’s programmers for granting Sweetheart’s alluring intensity one last theatrical screening before Blumhouse releases Dillard’s latest straight to VOD in late October. Read More »

VFW Review

Fangoria’s production banner is becoming a tell-all for cinematic expectations, minimum requirements including gore, violence, and oh, more gore. Joe BegosVFW is the latest outrageous splatter flick to promote the iconic horror brand, and let me tell you – it delivers as suggested. That’s both a positive and negative depending on which filmmaking aspect is being magnified, but we’ll get there soon. As an introduction, understand that VFW is all about Assault On Precinct 13 anarchy, horror-grotesque violence, and enough booze to take down Wade Boggs on a cross-country flight.

Think of it as the action massacre midnighter your parents never wanted you to see, but you snuck into the VHS player at way too young an age after they went to sleep. Oh, the power of grindhouse corruption. Read More »

The Long Walk Review

It’s no secret how collective audiences view cinema, any genre, as an escape. This leads to “Hollywoodized” representations of fantastical storybook livelihoods and blind eyes turned to inescapable hardships. Foreign filmmakers like Mattie Do aren’t beholden to such candy-coating at this year’s Fantastic Fest, which allows movies like The Long Walk to express more honesty and earnestness. Do stares death in the face and refuses to look away when ugliness or depression rears forward. Mortality is a blessing and a curse, which should be embraced on both fronts. Bless expressionism that tips the scale both ways, making for a haunting meditation on loss that’s blunt, bleak, and so much better for acknowledging – nay, waltzing step-for-step with – the darkness of finality. Read More »

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We Summon the Darkness review

Alexandra Daddario in a heavy metal horror movie? All those incantations and offerings to our Dark Lord have finally paid off my fellow – er, I mean, how lucky are we! Marc Meyers’ satanic panic headbanger flips the script on evil intentions and assembles a kickass girl gang decked out in studded leather. Daddario so often plays the adoring love interest, and I’ve been yearning to see someone twist her rom-com-ready talents into pitch-black realms. We Summon The Darkness kickstarts Satan’s heart in the name of bedeviled slayings, and every actor relishes their wild-child performative opportunities. I think I may have a new favorite Daddario persona. Read More »